1.20.2018

Birthdays

At the end of December, Mark had a very special birthday. I won’t tell you how old he is, but let’s just say it’s a speed limit. A very significant one, at that, though not the fastest speed allowed. Not yet, anyway.

Birthdays are special in our household. And, for birthday meals, I tend to go all out!

First, there’s the dinner that you request. Often, it’s a favorite meal – for Mark, it is usually comfort food of some kind. This year he requested - and I made - Moqueca, a Brazilian seafood stew.

Then, there’s the dish that I want to create especially for you. Something you’ve never had, and something I’ve never made. If you come to our house for your birthday, be forewarned that this special meal is much more about me than it is about you. As long as you’re good with that, you’ll have a great dinner!

For his birthday, Mark's friend Marylou gifted him two beautiful Limoges plates from the design by Claude Monet. It is one of our favorite china patterns, and it inspired this special meal.

The sumptuous blue and yellow called out for something hot pink. That was easy – beets! One problem, though. Mark does not like beets. (Why would I eat something that tastes like dirt? he might ask...) This presented me with a challenge: to make something with beets that he will eat, and perhaps even ask for again.

Beet pasta seemed to be the logical choice; the challenge was to make a sauce that didn’t hide its gorgeous color.

I ended up with a citrus-ginger butter sauce and seared scallops on top of the pasta. As you can see, it’s a beautiful presentation. The chives on top add just a bit of green for one more color.

Feel free to make this using purchased pasta, or any color you can find. The sauce is wonderful regardless of the color of pasta.

Happy Birthday, Markipedia!

~ David

Beet Pasta with Citrus-Ginger Butter and Seared Scallops
1/2 cup well-cooked beets, puréed
3 eggs
3 to 3 1/2 cups type “00” flour, or all purpose flour 


juice of 2 oranges
juice of 1 Meyer lemon
1 cup white wine
a 2-inch piece of ginger thinly sliced
1 large shallot, minced
1 chiltepin, or a pinch of red pepper flakes
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sugar
a 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
16-20 large sea scallops, tough muscle removed
3-4 tablespoons flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
butter, for searing
freshly chopped chives, for serving


Note: Usually, when I make fresh pasta, I make it directly on my wooden countertops. Because the beets will stain everything, I made this in a large, wide, shallow stainless steel bowl.

Mix the puréed beets and eggs well in a small bowl. Place the flour in a large, wide, shallow bowl and make a well. Add the beat and egg purée to the well and, using a fork, stir the beet mixture around the perimeter so that it takes on some flour with each rotation. When it becomes too stiff to use the fork, use your hands and pull it together to make a firm, but pliant, dough. Knead it several times adding more flour as necessary. Wrap the dough in plastic and let it rest for 20-30 minutes.

Cutting, rolling, and slicing the pasta. Divide the dough in half; wrap one half and put it into the refrigerator for another use. (This recipe makes enough dough for 8 servings.) Divide the other half into thirds and, one at a time, dust and knead them in flour, then send them through the pasta machine rollers. Because this dough is particularly moist, you will need to dust it often with flour. I started at the 1st notch and went to the 5th. Lay out the slabs and cut them into shorter lengths - about 8-10 inches. Place them on a sheet of parchment. Repeat with remaining two pieces of dough.

Change to the fettuccine roller and put each slab though. Gather the noodles and dust with flour and set aside on the parchment. Repeat for all slabs. If you don’t have the fettuccine roller, you can hand slice your noodles. Let the noodles sit while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.

Place orange juice, Meyer lemon juice, wine, ginger, shallot, and chile in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, but keep sauce boiling till reduced to a syrup - about 2-3 tablespoons. This will take 5-10 minutes. Strain the syrup into a clean skillet (large enough to hold the pasta) and, over low heat, whisk in 4 tablespoons chilled butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, to emulsify. Season with the sugar and grated ginger, and set aside.

Dry the scallops. Place flour on a small plate and season with salt and pepper; mix with a fork. Return the citrus-ginger sauce to low heat and add the remaining butter.

When the water is boiling, heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter. When it is melted - just before it takes on color - dip the top of each scallop into the flour and place it floured-side down into the sizzling butter. When all scallops are in the pan, season the un-floured side with salt and pepper.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and keep an eye on it so it doesn’t boil over.

When the scallops are nicely brown on the bottom, turn them.

Whisk the citrus-ginger sauce.

When pasta is done, drain and add pasta to the skillet with the citrus-ginger sauce. Toss to coat.

Divide pasta among four warmed plates and top each serving with 4 or 5 scallops (which should just be done) and a sprinkle of freshly chopped chives.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Notes:
- The timing is based on very fresh pasta which cooks in 2-3 minutes. If using store bought fresh pasta or dried pasta, you will have to adjust the timing, and start cooking your pasta earlier.
- Many stores now carry pre-cooked beets. This is perfect for the recipe. I have not tried it with canned beets, though I can’t see a down side other than loss of flavor.

- If you do not like scallops, try this with shrimp, or simply serve with the citrus-ginger sauce for a vegetarian version.

25 comments:

  1. Well, I'd say you rose to the challenge on Mark's birthday meal! I happen to love roasted beets, and I bet that beet pasta was so flavorful. The sauce does sound amazing and this dish makes me ready for spring with it's beautiful colors, David. Happy birthday to Mark!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Spring" was exactly what I had in mind when thinking these colors, Marcelle! Thanks!

      Delete
  2. Happy Birthday to Mark! I like beets in any form, so if/when I'm ever in Tucson around my birthday, I'd love a beet extravaganza, please?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John - you can have a beet extravaganza whenever you are in Tucson ... even if it isn't your birthday!

      Delete
  3. A speed limit! That's hilarious! This dish looks fit for a king, and I bet that's how Mark felt! Happy birthday to him! (Tell him to slow down a bit) haha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have many more speed limits to challenge, Christina!

      Delete
  4. David , I am trying to comment for the third time. Mr. Google is giving me problems. Happy Birthday to Mark and your pasta looks divine, I have never seen pink pasta.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks fro your persistence, Gerlinde - both Mark and I appreciate it! :)

      Delete
  5. I think anyone would be thrilled to be a year older if they had this dinner. Happy Birthday to Mark, even if it is a little late.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Karen - getting older isn't so bad... :)

      Delete
  6. This recipe certainly reflects a lot of care and love. I've only made pasta with 'the machine' once and it was a bit of work. I normally don't like beets but your combination with the citrus looks like a winner!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Fran - maybe, like Mark, this will be the perfect vehicle for your beets!

      Delete
  7. I'm facing a speed limit myself soon! Feel free to go wild with beets on my birthday because I love them almost as much as I love scallops. GREG

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Speed limits are meant to be broken, Greg - enjoy yours, and I hope you get beets and scallops. You could always come here, you know!

      Delete
  8. Happy birthday to Mark - and what a fabulous idea with the beets. Adore scallops so this is a wonderful way to serve them, along with ginger, orange ... sounds great, David!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jill - you and I both love color, and when something like this comes along in my head, I can't resist putting it down on a plate!

      Delete
  9. Happy birthday to Mark! He's a lucky man to be served this meal. I adore beets and scallops and the combination of citrus and ginger is one of my favorites!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. With the exception of the betts, Valentina, these are all Mark's favorite flavors, too. I just like to push the envelope and get him to like things he swears he doesn't!

      Delete
  10. Sounds like birthdays are fun at your house! Homemade pasta and those beautiful scallops! I just hunted down my old (never used) pasta maker and found local durum flour, so homemade pasta is getting closer here!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You definitely need to make some pasta soon, Inger! It is so much fun, and tastes so good!

      Delete
  11. Happy birthday to Mark from one who is, for better or worse, way past the speed limit...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But you are still going full speed ahead, Frank!

      Delete
  12. Happy (late!) Birthday Mark, what a beautiful meal to celebrate with.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

If you would like to receive follow-up comments, simply click the "Subscribe by E-mail" link to the right of the "Publish" and "Preview" buttons.